Some friends of mine have been talking up this issue since it appeared as one of Marvel’s “First Looks” books. Any fan of the previous Mark Waid/Mike Wieringo run on FF, they’ve said, would like the first Straczynski/McKone issue, and that it was very different from Straczynski’s previous work on Spider-Man that enraged so many long-time fans. So as a big Waid/Ringo fan, as one who hated “Sins Past” and one who also loved Babylon 5, I figured I’d blow three bucks to see if the comic matched the hype.
And you know what? It wasn’t too bad.
The best sequence is the opening five pages of the story. In it, An
omnipotent being watches a world as it evolves from barbarous cavemen to civilization to finally the last survivor of nuclear war. It’s a sad and curiously moving scene, and as the mood of the captions changes, it is revealed that the watcher is Reed Richards, smartest man on Earth. McKone and Straczynski draw a quiet parallel between the scene Reed watches and the life he lives with an eerily beautiful scene that very quietly seems to say a lot about our
civilization. Scenes like that verify Straczynski’s reputation as a terrific writer.
Cut to the family room in the living suite in the Baxter Building. Reed and Sue are meeting with their accountant. Straczynski makes a nod to the Waid run, mentioning that the FF are broke due to their misadventures in invading Latveria. But there’s a loophole: the Thing’s bank account is separate from that of the rest of the team, and he’s stinking rich! Ben finds out and literally jumps for joy. It’s a nice plot twist, totally logical and totally unexpected, and seems to finally bring Ben a certain amount of joy that he’s long deserved.
Unfortunately the rest of the issue isn’t quite as wonderful as the first half. Nick Fury stops by with a mission for Reed, and the story spins into a completely different dimension. I think I’m just a bit sick of Nick Fury lately, since it seems he’s been appearing in almost every Marvel comic in the last few months. I understand that SHIELD has their long arms in many things, but the organization has become kind of a crutch for writers who need a plot set in motion. Everybody always seems surprised by SHIELD’s latest enormous undertaking, but it strains credulity that they have as many pieces in motion as they seem to in the Marvel Universe. Maybe
it’s time to ramp down the Nick Fury appearances for awhile.
Still, a promising beginning. As long as no clones show up, this might end up being a nice run.